Thursday, April 1, 2010
City considers strategic plan
By SUE WATSON
The Holly Springs Board of Aldermen will take a look at a proposal to do a long-term strategic plan for the economic and community development of the city.
Mayor Andre’ DeBerry presented developer Kenneth Farrell of Memphis, Tenn., to the board March 16. Farrell expressed optimism that the present time is the right time to plan for the growth of the city.
Farrell and partner Lance Forsdick put together the Holly Springs Commons development several years ago as a way to promote economic growth around the intersection of Highway 7 South and U.S. 78/I-22.
Farrell said many of the objectives at the Commons were met because of teamwork and the human resources of the community.
“Today, I want to consider something out of the box as we continue to work on the Holly Springs Commons,” Farrell said. “It’s been a tough few years in our business and in people’s lives. Also, some important lessons were learned.”
He said new ideas are emerging which provide opportunities for growth and doing things better.
One big idea is how the community wants to see its future coming out of a worldwide recession - whether the community will stand aside and watch communities come out of a recession or whether it will plan to be the news maker in creating growth.
Quality of life is a big issue in a small community like Holly Springs, Farrell said. It will be the new jobs created that help raise the quality of life in the city, he said.
The best way to come out of the recession is to take stock and to develop a strong strategy for making the community better, he said.
“Community development and quality of life are ends unto themselves,” he said. “Jobs create quality of life.”
Farrell offered to help with that plan through a needs assessent and an economic plan that takes into consideration about a dozen elements or sectors of the community. It will take about a year to complete the assessment and strategy and the end product would provide a budget and a schedule for moving the city forward, he said.
DeBerry said Farrell already has contributed much to the city in terms of a vision, as his company has done in other cities. He said he believes Holly Springs will become a hub for economic development in the entire county.
“I feel like Holly Springs is a slumbering giant with an opportunity to grow the cultural arts and tourism,” Farrell said.
He called Dr. Kenneth Williams “a real visionary” for moving his clinic to the Commons area where a medical campus can be located which will attract all kinds of business neighbors.
“You are at a crossroad of opportunity,” Farrell said. “I’m asking you for the opportunity to help you take it to the next level.”
In a short question and answer period that followed Farrell’s presentation, alderman Russell Johnson asked him to come back and answer some questions he would pose regarding quality of life.
Alderman Garrie Colhoun asked if there is a conflict of interest with Farrell already having interest in the Commons development.
“We are already partners and I would like to help that development and every other development in town,” Farrell said.
He will look for business for this town, he said. With six years experience in the retail business in Holly Springs, Farrell said he would think about workforce development and other plans.
DeBerry said the city has been operating under a strategic plan conducted in the early 1990s under the administration of the late mayor Eddie Lee Smith. He said he will urgently look for funding for the strategic plan and would like to get it underway in 30 to 60 days.
Following this discussion, DeBerry read a letter he entitled “In the Interests of the City” to the board of aldermen, where he invited them to retreat where the leaders could work on building a sense of purpose, appreciation and discuss ethics and respect.
“Product is more important than process,” he said.
He believes a retreat would help resolve some opposing positions taken by himself and the board. He has contacted the Stennis Institute to become a third party in the dialogue.
“They teach about principles, ethics, fairness and ultimately doing what the constitutions of the State of Mississippi and the United States dictate,” the mayor said. “We can differ but we do not have to be disagreeable. We have to have a sense of decorum and a respect for each other.
“Government has to evolve, and our opinions have to evolve and ultimately at the end of the day we have to negotiate.”
Alderman Johnnie Bagley motioned to arrange the retreat and the motion passed unanimously.
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